A Harvest of Waste

by Zbigniew

“The city’s first coat of arms … was a representation of things that were the lifeblood of the city at that time … a sailing ship, a tree, wooden docks and a train.”

Lori L. Wallis, & Jake Adams, The Greater Vancouver Book


Wood was everything: transportation, clothing, shelter; from fuel and tool to conduit for spirits.

The first European settlements were sawmill camps; loggers and millers lived on wood, in wooden homes heated by wood fires, and walked plank sidewalks and streets paved with wooden blocks. The forest loomed large –literally and figuratively.

In everything but postcards, the city started turning its back on cedar and Douglas Fir. By the early 1980s the economic decoupling was obvious: the loggers checked-out of their skid road hotels for good, and the winter morning pungent whiff of pulp disappeared. The cooperage was the last to go, making way for the Exposition, the “coming out” party. And then even the logrolling competition vanished from the fair grounds.

Far from our life of concrete and glass life, the poorly stewarded forest is an icon debased, a harvest of raw logs and woodchips –a steaming pile of waste, passing briefly through an orifice.